This morning’s sentencing hearing in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor was an emotionally devastating affair. Cameras in the courtroom captured much of the drama in the victim impact statements, the defendant’s statement to the court, and Judge Quaintance’s pronouncement of conviction and sentence. The Star Tribune has a decent narrative account here.
I have embedded all the videos I could find from the hearing below. I urge interested readers to take them in.
Justine’s mother had died of cancer and her father remarried. Missing from this array of videos are the statements from Justine’s father and stepmother, read to the court by Bob Bennett (the family attorney in the civil lawsuit against the city and the department), and the statements from Justine’s brother Jason and sister-in-law Katarina, read to the court by staff from the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office.
Also missing from this array is the video of Justine’s friends and family played by the prosecution. Bob Bennett told me on the way out of court that the video had been prepared for his use in the civil lawsuit.
What we had in every one of these statements was grief naked, undimmed, unadulterated, unassimilated. Justine’s stepmother put it this way: “Our sentence is for life.”
Justine was beloved. She was a happy person who brought happiness wherever she went.
The sorrow of her death survives. These statements gave us tragedy without catharsis. There was no forgiveness. Justine’s survivors sought the maximum sentence on Noor. Judge Quintance administered justice in the only form the criminal justice system can offer it.
Fiancé Don Damond spoke first.
Zach Damond followed. His awkwardness made the pain all the more real.
Sharon Sebring is Don’s mother. She too loved Justine.
Mohamed Noor spoke to the court last before the imposition of sentence.
Judge Quaintance had been visibly moved by the victim impact statements, but she took the bench with a written statement to which she hewed. At the conclusion of the two-hour hearing she had her say. Judge Quaintance’s rendition of the jurors’ questions following their service on the case is left hanging in the air.
Prosecutor Amy Sweasy was outstanding. She urged the judge to reject the pleas for dispositional or durational departure in sentencing. At least two of the family statements thanked her for her work on the case. It is in the nature of things that Ms. Sweasy will never get the thanks or the recognition she deserves. She was a force of nature taking on the system to assure that justice was done in this case. Those of us for whom this case is a local story owe her a profound debt of gratitude.